The next chapter in the ongoing JCPS student-assignment saga (that could arguably date back a couple decades to Brown v. Board of Education) was published today.
A ruling by a Kentucky Court of Appeals panel sides with parents who feel it’s their right to have their children attend neighborhood schools, rather than busing them to schools chosen by the district in an effort to maintain racial/socio-economic balance.
The ruling overturns a 2010 decision made by a lower court and orders JCPS to come up with a new plan by the 2012-2013 school year.
Two years ago, LEO wrote of parents’ frustrations with the plan, along with the plan’s historical context.
In today’s ruling, Judge Kelly Thompson writes that while JCPS has issued a “doom and gloom” forecast should the assignment plan topple, the district failed to lay out evidence that would “substantiate its prophecy.”
More importantly, the court ruled that state law clearly says parents have the right to enroll their children in schools nearest their home. Thompson writes:
“The benefit of children attending neighborhood schools is obvious. Busing creates the impediment of distance among parent, child, and school and, therefore, increases the difficulty of family involvement. A child who attends a school other than one located in his or her neighborhood must board the bus earlier and arrive home later, spending idle time without the supervision of teachers or parents. It is time otherwise that could be spent with family, participating in extracurricular activities, studying and bonding with neighborhood friends.”
Judge Michael Caperton points out that while JCPS asserts that poor, at-risk students tend to come from homes with a lack of family support and parental involvement, they never explained how busing would remedy this.
Judge Sara Combs was the sole dissenter in the ruling.
It’s likely that this case will go to the Supreme Court of Kentucky. JCPS Superintendent Donna Hargens and Board Chairman Steve Imhoff released this statement:
“We are disappointed in the ruling. We strongly believe that Judge Irv Maze previously made the right decision and we fully intend to appeal to the Kentucky Supreme Court. The law and the facts support Judge Maze’s decision and we are confident that the Supreme Court will agree.”
The timing of this ruling coincides with the JCPS school board’s consideration of yet another assignment plan revision that could reduce bus times for elementary students.
Read today’s full ruling here.